I got a taxi to the “Swiss Guest House.” It’s been there for a long time. Not sure how long. As i walked up to the front a Bhutanese woman came out and greeted me. Kuzudzongpola i said. Yeah. It’s a tough greeting. But after awhile it just rolls off your tongue. The lazier you are with it, the more respect you get it seems.
I asked her where the trail started for Petsoling monastery. She said “follow me. And that is Tiger and Lily. They know the way and will follow you.” The collared lab/shepherd/rottie mixes and I headed off.
I had decided to do a nice hike to gauge my strength and my knee as I am dreaming of a big Nepal trek next month. The book said a 2600 foot climb. I’m already at right around 10000 feet. Alrighty. And a monastery up top!?! I packed a 20 or so pound pack to give me a little weight. Let’s go.
Well Tiger and Lily knew the way, but they weren’t very vocal when i went the wrong way. I was rocking it. Knocking it out faster than I thought when a few “options” came my way. Hmmm. I’ll go this way. They followed. I came across a not so good English speaking local. Which way? He says right. Motioning with his left hand. Then go left of the mani wall. Motioning with his right hand. Hmm. Not confident at this point. I took off. As I got higher the brush got thicker. Should I turn back? Nah. Just bushwhack. I mean, I saw kinda where it was. Oh man. A solid hour of me hiking thru the densest Amazon like forest. As steep as a step ladder. Thick deep soft earth. Running into impossible thickets. The dogs frolicking and taking advantage of their low center of gravity. I gotta take a break. Clouds coming in. I mean it’s RIGHT THERE!
A small feeling of panic set in. I am glad there are no thorns or poison oak. I’m getting tired. This is hard work. Dogs chasing some beast in the bush. I break right. See a little less brush up ahead and burst onto the trail. A stone stupa in my sights. Damn. I gotta get a ride down. There is a road up there I heard. I’m wrecked.
As I approached the monastery, a few young monks waved. I motioned which way.? They directed me. I arrived with my pack of animals in tow. I poked around. Put on my pullover all the while noticing the protective nature of my two furry friends. I mean they had never left me but certainly hadn’t corrected my mistakes. All of a sudden they jump to attention. Become really focused on me and warded off the monastery dogs as they looked to challenge and harass me. It was amazing. It was like instant bonding. They drew close. Literally attaching themselves to my side and trading off. I found later they are brother and sister.
We move around the monastery to where all the young monks are playing. I come up and they of course engage me. The English speaking ones asking questions. They ask me if I want to play. Motioning to this dart like object with a thick handle. Kind of like a big dandelion weeder/dart. The boy says “hit post.” I’m like a good forty feet away, being watched by 20 some monks and all the while thinking “the national pastime is ARCHERY! I feel pressure!” A few older monks peek out from the building above the field to watch.
I wind up like I’m throwing a baseball and let it fly. Whack! Dead center. I’m not sure who was more surprised. I’m like, yeah. No big deal. Had I hit the second one they might have really been impressed. I should have walked away.
I told my sad story of being lost, all the while the monks are feeding the dogs and laughing in the flirtatious ways monks do. From maybe 5 yrs old to 20?
After a while the oldest and best English speaking monk says he will show you the way down motioning to one monk. He has to go to town to get his tooth pulled. But he can’t speak English.
Let’s do it!
I’m thinking back to my first monk interaction in China 22 years ago and taking some pics and chatting. While waiting the older monk says. “Now you have two” as another young monk saunters over. AND he speaks English. He’s sick too.
So we start down the trail, dogs in tow and started chatting. This is EXACTLY why I’m traveling solo. I get to connect with these young monks both verbally and non verbally, hear their life stories (one is a dancer and one a singer) and have a good laugh for 90 minutes.
We stopped halfway down, the dogs nuzzled up to me as if they were mine and the English speaking monk says he never spoken at length with any tourist as they are in a group. Man. I was so lucky. The boy says “did you see bear on your way up?” What? “Yes. Small Himalayan bear here.” Maybe THAT’S what they were chasing!
We continued on. Saw where I missed the turn and rolled into the Swiss Guest House just as it got dark. I told them how awesome their dogs were in spite of them letting me wander, had tea and cookies and got a taxi into town. With the monks. We capped the night off with a plate of momos at a local haunt. Yep. That’s why I’m here. Rescued by monks. Hope the pictures attach. If not i will post to FB next. Get to finally see Chhimi and his family tomorrow!